Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rocks in a Backpack

From Steve Brown:

Recently, a friend of mine gave me an illustration by Ron Hutchcraft regarding how some young people in Alaska learn about responsibility. 

Do you know what they do? When a child does something bad, they put a rock in his or her backpack. When they do something good, they take one out. The better they are, the lighter the backpack. On the other hand, the backpack can become really heavy if a child is especially bad.

As I read that, I thought, I've been doing that for most of my life.

There was a time when I thought I could keep even by getting more of the rocks out of the bag than I put in it. That was when I was younger. Those were the days when I thought that if I could just get the rocks out of my backpack I would be a fit and pure vessel for Christ to use. All I had to do was work at it and then, once the task was accomplished, I would see "thousands saved and hundreds healed."

For years I was a rock counter. I spent most of my time checking the backpack. I didn't notice that my legs were getting bowed and my back was bending from the weight. I just kept trying to get the rocks out. I started looking like a worn out cowboy. However, I found that, if you tried really hard, you could keep your back straight so that people wouldn't notice. But, man, it does take a toll trying to hide the fact that the backpack is killing you.

That's when God said:  You know, you don't have to carry that backpack anymore.
What do you mean? I thought that was my purpose in life. Don't you want me to be holy and obedient and stuff? This was your idea, not mine.

Wasn't my idea.

Don't you want me to be righteous?

That would be nice, but you're going about it all wrong. I don't know if you've noticed, but the backpack is a lot heavier than it used to be. If getting the rocks out of that backpack is your purpose in life, you're not doing a very good job of it.

But I'm working hard.

I know.


You don't have to work so hard at it. In fact, you're spending half of your life working on getting those rocks out of the backpack and you're not living anymore. You're missing a lot of really good things I planned for you. I would rather you just came to me. I can take care of the rocks. That is what the cross was about.

You mean that you will take the rocks out of the backpack and make it lighter?

No, I don't want the rocks. I want the backpack.

What? You're joking, right?

No, I'm not joking. I don't joke about something this serious. I don't joke about things that destroy people I love.

But, Lord, I've had this thing a long time. In fact, I've sort of grown accustomed to it. Besides, if I gave you the backpack, how could I measure whether or not I was pleasing you?

I'm already pleased...and it has nothing to do with the rocks or lack of them in your backpack. Tell me, what would you do with your life if you didn't have to spend all of your time working with those rocks?

I'm not sure. Maybe go to a movie or take a day off or something. I might just be quiet and spend more time with you. Maybe even tell some people about your kindness and love. I guess I would even tell them about this conversation.

Then, child, do it with joy...and give the backpack to me.

And that's how I got rid of the backpack...well, almost. The fact is that I sometimes go to the throne and take it back. When I do that, I think God shakes his head and blushes a bit. But I don't keep it very long anymore. It's hard to dance with all that weight.

Paul wrote, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:1, NKJV). 

The great thing about not being under condemnation anymore is that the Spirit starts doing his work. In fact, I'll bet if I started carrying that backpack again, it would have less rocks in it than it used to have. Maybe not. But I'm not going to check. He told me I didn't have to.
Did you hear the story about the old man with a heavy load in his sack, walking down the road? A farmer came by in his wagon, felt sorry for the old man and gave him a ride. The man climbed up on the wagon and thanked the farmer. Then the farmer noticed that the man still carried the sack.

"Why don't you put that sack down?" asked the farmer. "It's got to be heavy."

"You are so kind," the old man said. "But I wouldn't want to impose on your kindness. You shouldn't have to carry me and the sack."

Silly? Of course it is. But it is no more silly than the way you carry that dumb backpack around with all those rocks. Why don't you just let him carry it all?

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